Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Value of My Cat's Life

This morning, I woke up and stepped right into my cat, MJ’s, puke. He’s been doing this frequently of late. Since he’s now about 17 years old in human years, I suspect his digestive system isn’t functioning very well. (FYI, that’s 76 years old in cat years.)

MJ has also lost weight over the years and I don’t expect him to live that much longer. So I’ve created a “pet fund” that I intend to use to cover the cost of his euthanasia as well as his cremation. As morbid as that may sound, I created the fund so that I don’t make the same money mistake I made with my other cat, CC.

About a couple of years ago, CC’s rear legs suddenly became paralyzed as a result of a saddle embolism. Although the chances were slim, I held out hope that CC will somehow make a miraculous full recovery.

I initially told the veterinarian that “money was no object” and immediately authorized $3,000 on my credit card for treatment. The vet called me around noon to give me the prognosis and asked whether I wanted to euthanize CC. I asked him to continue whatever treatment he felt appropriate.

Little did I know that $3,000 would not even cover a night’s stay at the specialty hospital. That evening, a hospital staffer called me and requested another $3,000 pre-authorization on my credit card. After agonizing the entire evening, I finally decided to euthanize CC at 11:00 p.m. At the time, I didn’t want to admit that CC’s life hung on my ability (or inability) to pay for her ongoing care and treatment.

Not that I don’t value MJ’s life, but if he becomes seriously ill, I don't plan to authorize any money on my credit card for his hospitalization. Firstly, because I can’t afford it. And secondly, I am not certain that treatment is the most humane thing to do at his age. Note that I mentioned “serious illness”, like cancer or an embolism. If MJ can be treated relatively easily and quickly (e.g. infection, simple bone fracture, etc.), I’ll seek treatment.

I’m sure when the time comes, I won’t be as cold and calm as I type this now. But I’ve been mentally repeating to myself that euthanizing MJ because I can’t afford to pay for expensive medical treatments is not only financially responsible but humane as well.

(P.S. Sorry for the downer post!)


Anonymous said...

It's very hard having to put a pet down, but ultimately, in the case of a terminal illness, it is the most humane option. Putting an animal through chemotherapy, it won't understand what's happening, and it really is an awful thing to make them go through.

It's hard to let them go. I'm actually tearing up right now thinking about my dog that had to be euthanized more than 5 years ago. Ultimately, it's harder for us, not for them...

Shtinkykat said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Pets are like family and this type of life and death decision is always difficult even if it is best for the pet.

Anonymous said...

I have a pet fund too. I have 2 cats and I want to be able to take them to the vet without worrying about credit card debt. My cats are like my kids. I want to be able to take care of them.